Global financial markets are coming under pressure in early Asian trade, with the exception of safe-haven assets.
The Japanese yen is up by 0.5%, trading at 112.55 against the US dollar, while gold is up by a similar margin, currently sitting at $1,243.31 an ounce.
By contrast, stocks are coming under pressure. The TOPIX in Tokyo is down 0.6%, pressured by the stronger yen. Australia’s ASX 200 is also down by around 0.5%, a stark turnaround in fortunes given SPI futures were indicating a flat start to trade.
S&P 500 futures are also coming under pressure, sitting down 0.54% at 2,384.
It’s all a little gloomy.
While there is no one factor to explain the risk-off tone, it could be in response to reports that US president Donald Trump pressured former FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation into former US national security adviser Michael Flynn in February.
According to reports from the New York Times, Comey reportedly created records of interactions he had with Trump which he deemed “improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation”.
During the meeting, the president asked him to drop the FBI investigation, Comey’s memo said.
“He is a good guy,” Trump told Comey, according to the memo. “I hope you can let this go”.
In the absence of any major economic data or market-moving news, this looks like the most likely catalyst to explain the soft start to trade for markets.
Here’s the Japanese yen hourly chart:
And the 5-minute tick chart for US S&P e-mini futures:
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